in Airports

Namibia's Hosea Kutako tender is back in play

Posted 22 May 2017 · Add Comment

The Namibian government says it has restarted a 'transparent and cost-sensitive' tendering process for the expansion of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) which stalled in March after a Supreme Court ruling which nullified the December 2015 decision to award the contract to a Chinese company, writes Oscar Nkala.

The ruling ended a long-running legal battle in which Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, a State-owned concern, disputed a government decision to cancel the tender following a review which revealed that the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Namibian Airports Company (NAC) had flouted tender regulations.

The cancellation was also influenced by consultants who advised the government that at US$466 million (or N$7 billion), Anhui's price tag for the airport upgrade and rehabilitation tender was by far too expensive for the scope of work envisaged.

At the time, media reports also alleged gross irregularities and possible bribery and corruption were rife during the bidding process However, the Chinese company took legal action against the government, saying it should restore the contract or pay restitution for breach of contract.

Following the Supreme Court ruling in April, Namibian President Hage Heingob says the government has re- started a tendering process that would be both transparent and cost-sensitive.

"Despite the urgent need to upgrade the airport, we did not hesitate to seek the cancellation of the tender due to irregularities. The Supreme Court decision to set the tender award aside has enabled us to restart a transparent and cost-sensitive procurement process," Geingob said.

The airport upgrade plan is aimed at de-congesting the main passenger terminal and prevent traveller delays. The new structure will feature separate departures and arrivals halls and a world standard VIP hall to accommodate dignitaries.

A second and longer run-way will also be built to handle traffic in the event of incapacitation of the existing one.

Apart from the HKIA, the Namibian Airports Company (NAC) operates seven other airports which are also earmarked for infrastructural upgrades as Namibia struggles to achieve its goal of being the alternative regional gateway to South Africa.

However, the current upgrade plans only cover the Hosea Kutako, Eros, Ondangwa and Walvis Bay airports.  NAC Chief Executive Officer Tamer-el-Kallawi said there is no budget for upgrades to the smaller airports in the towns of Rundu, Katima-Mulilo, Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop, which are all in bad shape.

The airport in Rundu features a shed with 25 seats, which forces the majority of passengers to stand while waiting to catch flights or to be collected after landing. The airport has no passenger terminal and minimal ablution facilities, which are shared by its staff and travellers.

Although it has a 3.5km long runway capable of accommodating larger aircraft, it has no lights and the apron and taxiways are paved with gravel. The airport has no refuelling facilities and receives outsourced supplies which are delivered only on request.

 

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